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3 Crucial Steps to Take BEFORE Creating a Content Marketing Plan

3 Crucial Steps to Take BEFORE Creating a Content Marketing Plan

When creating a content marketing plan, a lot of entrepreneurs I know do it backwards.

They sit down and start brainstorming a bunch of topics. Which can work. But, it can also be a big time waster (especially if the entrepreneurs get stuck and have no idea what they want to create). There’s also a high likelihood they don’t end up creating content their ideal client wants to consume. (Which is the whole point of putting a content marketing plan together in the first place.)

Or, in some cases, they skip the plan altogether and simply jump in and create whatever tickles their fancy that day.

Again, this can sometimes be successful strategy. (It wasn’t for me.) But, I think in most cases what you typically end up is a content marketing plan that’s hit or miss. (Truthfully, more miss than hit.)

So, is there a better way to create a content marketing plan? Why yes! And, where it starts is by making sure you have a solid foundation in place.

Not only are you more likely to create a successful blog or podcast or video channel or whatever you’re creating because you’ve focused on building a solid foundation, but it’s also going to be soooo much easier for you to create content on a regular and consistent basis (which really is the key to creating momentum and results around your marketing).

Plus, just sitting down and creating a content marketing plan for a year (or even for the next quarter) can feel overwhelming. That’s why I think taking a few steps back and getting your foundation in place BEFORE you create a content marketing plan is so essential.

And, the best part? Having this foundation in place will help focus ALL of your marketing efforts, not just creating a content marketing plan.

Without further ado, let’s dive into these three crucial steps.

1. Be clear on precisely what your expertise is (and isn’t).

If you’re a new entrepreneur or new to whatever it is you’re doing, this can feel daunting. It can also feel daunting if you are like me and have a bad case of “fraud” syndrome, or “I have to read one more book or get one more certification before I’m an expert” syndrome.

I’m not going to give you the same advice you may have heard from other gurus, which is if you know 80% more than your ideal client, you’re an expert.

While technically that may be true, in practice that’s a horrid platform to build your content marketing plan on.

Your ideal prospects are NOT (let me repeat NOT) looking for the same, watered- down content everyone else and their brother who are also “80% experts” are putting out. They are NOT looking for content that is basically regurgitated from a book or a program.

They are looking for solid, high-quality content that either educates them or entertains them, or both.

So, what DO you do then, if you’re new to your business and you don’t have the level of expertise as other experts who have been out there for a decade or more?

First off, there’s no law that says your content marketing plan can only include content YOU create. What about using other people’s expertise? You could start a podcast and interview other experts. You could write blog posts that quote posts and books from other experts (giving full credit of course).

Over time, as you grow your business, you’ll start to find your voice and your style of teaching., and as you do, you can start creating content from your voice.

And, quite honestly, THAT’S what your ideal prospects are looking for. They’re looking for you because they want to hear how YOU perceive the content and YOUR angles and how you interpret it from YOUR unique life experiences and stories.

There are very few things that are “brand new” right now. But, what IS new is your unique spin on similar ideas. Right now, you may not be feeling brave enough or comfortable enough to truly step into your unique voice. That’s okay. While you’re developing that, see what you can do to leverage other people’s expertise.

2. Be clear on precisely who you’re serving.

Your ideal client is going to influence how you present your content.

For instance, let’s say you’re a money expert. You’re going to present content around money very differently depending on whether you’d rather work with entrepreneurs or employees.

What if you’re a relationship expert? You’re going to see things through completely different angles depending on whether you’re working with men or women, and whether your ideal clients are 20-year-old women or 50-year-old divorcees.

That’s why getting clear on who your ideal clients are and what is keeping them up at night—and making sure the content you’re creating is relevant to them (not to mention something they want to consume)—is super important.

3. Be clear on precisely what you offer them that no one else is, and why they should come to you.

Again, if you’re new, you may find this one a little scary.

But, here’s the thing: If you can’t communicate what makes you unique, you WILL struggle in your business.

Your ideal clients are going to want to know why they should plunk down their hard-earned money to work with you versus someone else. And, if you can’t tell them, they may wonder if they can get what you offer cheaper somewhere else.

Because, you see, if you aren’t able to explain to them your value, they’re going to make their buying decision based on whether or not they feel like they can afford what you’re charging.

If you make it clear what your value is and how what you do is different from everyone else, then price becomes less of an issue. You can’t be price-shopped, because no one else offers the same value you are providing.

If you struggle with this, this article walks you through my formula on how to craft your message so it resonates with your ideal client.

Once you know this, you’ll have a much better idea of the sort of content that will resonate most with your ideal client. (This doesn’t mean you won’t want to do some testing on the best content for your ideal clients, but you’ll definitely have a solid place to start with your content marketing plan.)

So, you may have noticed that all three of these steps have one thing in common, which is … (drum roll)


To me, clarity is one of those things that just doesn’t sound all that sexy, but yet, the more clear your are, the easier everything is.

I know for myself I prefer the “just jump in and figure it out later” approach. However, I’ve definitely had mixed results with that. Some things have worked out great and others … not so much.

While I think you can also go the other way and spend TOO much time in research and preparation and “getting ready to get ready,” I also think there’s a happy medium between getting clear and just getting started.

If you want to see my specific strategy on how I got clear before creating my second blog, I walk you through it here.

And, if you’d like to dig more deeply into online marketing, including putting together an online marketing plan, my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book may be perfect for you.

Is YouTube on the Way Out?

Is YouTube on the Way Out?

I recently came across two contradictory articles about the effectiveness of YouTube.

First, the bad. In December, 2017, Business Insider had an article about how many (but not all) of the biggest stars on YouTube are seeing both their followers and their video views dwindle.

Now, the good. In January, 2018, a popular blog called IncomeMediary had an article about 8 SEO trends and listed YouTube as being the place where it’s at. (According to that site, YouTube is the second most searched platform on the Web.)

So, what’s the truth?

My suspicion is, like anything, the truth is what personally works for you. For some people, YouTube will always work great even if the overall trend shows it’s less and less effective. For others, YouTube will never work no matter how hot of a platform it is.

But, as that’s not the most helpful advice, I did a little research on my own on the YouTube experts I follow.

While I can’t be sure about the diminished followers part, I will say that overall watches in 2017 were down compared to previous years.

I will also say that some of the claims around video I found in the IncomeMediary post directly contradicted the stats I’ve seen on video watching over the years. Now, that doesn’t mean IncomeMediary is lying or being otherwise untruthful. It may very well be that the site is pulling data from other industries that I’m not as familiar with.

Which, brings me back to my earlier point, which is different marketing strategies are going to work or not work for different people regardless of what the overall trend is. Not to mention different marketing strategies and tactics are going to work better or differently depending on the industry and the specific ideal client group you’re trying to attract.

So, where does that leave us with YouTube? And if Business Insider is correct, why is the overall watches and followers dropping?

Well, the Business Insider article didn’t really have an answer for why this was happening, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

Is the problem the videos themselves? In other words, are fewer people watching videos these days?

I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. People still appear to be watching as many videos online as they ever did. In the U.S. alone, 85% of the Internet audience watches videos online, which is likely why there are so many platforms for watching them. For example, on Facebook, you can both upload existing videos and create Facebook Lives, Twitter has Periscope, Instagram allows for videos, and let’s not forget Snapchat, which is all about videos.

And, if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, using videos as part of your overall marketing strategy makes sense. One statistic I’ve seen claims that business that use video grow their revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

However, it’s important to note that not EVERYONE likes to watch videos (at least in regard to educational purposes—it’s a lot higher than that when we’re talking watching a movie or an episode of Game of Thrones). Only about 25% of your customers prefer watching videos over audio or reading.

BUT, people who DO watch videos are far more likely to become buyers, which is why it makes sense to integrate videos into your overall marketing strategy.

So, taking all of that into consideration, my suspicion as to what’s affecting YouTube is the number of options we now have for viewing videos online. Years ago, there was only YouTube. So, if you wanted to watch a video, you went to YouTube.

And, while you can certainly comment and like videos on YouTube, it’s not precisely a social networking platform. YouTube is about watching videos. Period. Commenting and liking is secondary.

Whereas if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, you’re there for the networking and the connection. So, if you can also get your video “fix” there, why wouldn’t you?

People are busy. Going to YouTube to watch a video is an additional step and an additional distraction in a busy day.

People are also lazy. Going to YouTube to watch a video is an additional step they may not feel like taking.

So, as an entrepreneur, what makes sense for you?

Let’s start with videos. Should you or should you not use them in your marketing?

I believe you absolutely SHOULD and here’s why:

1. Yes, only about 25% PREFER learning via video, that doesn’t meant only 25% will WATCH.

It’s been my experience that far more folks than that will at least take a quick peek at your videos. Even if it’s only one to two videos total.  (IncomeMediary says 55% of online users watch videos every day, and that is a stat I can believe, although let’s keep in mind that stat likely includes people wasting time watching cat videos.)

Video is also great for creating connection. People will get a much faster sense of who you are and if they want to learn from you via video than any other medium. So, a lot of people will watch from time to time, even if it’s not their preferred method, and if they like your energy and how you present yourself on video, they’re more likely to stick around (and maybe even eventually buy something).

2. If you want people to consume your marketing materials, it helps if you provide them options so they can choose HOW they prefer to consume it.

Just like in your paid training, people have their favorite way to learn whether it’s via reading, listening, watching videos, or interacting with the training in some way. That’s why giving people choices of watching videos, listening to audio, or reading a transcript is a great way to serve all learning styles.

And, if you want to market more effectively, it’s nice to do the same for your marketing materials. Give your audience options on how they choose to learn from you, even if it’s completely free on your blog, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

3. If you’re interested in expanding your marketing reach and visibility, creating videos gives you more options.

If you’re willing to do videos, you can have a presence on Snapchat and on YouTube. You can also expand the presence you have on platforms like Facebook if you start using videos. Those may be smart marketing moves.

Now, let’s look at YouTube. Should you build up your presence there or not?

Only if you’re planning on shooting stand-alone videos. If you are, then sure, why not load them up on YouTube as well. But, if your video strategy right now is to focus on something like Facebook Lives, I wouldn’t bother.

It’s early yet and things could turn around for YouTube, but right now, it’s sure looking like becoming a YouTube star isn’t what it used to be.

Speaking of YouTube stars, this is yet another great reminder about how all of these social network platforms are great to have a presence on, because they’re likely where your ideal clients, customers, and buyers are, BUT building your entire brand and platform on someone else’s site is (ahem) foolish. Your focus when you use these sites should always be to connect and encourage people to follow you to your blog or website, or some other platform you 100% control. (Personally, blogs are my fave.)

If your entire audience is on YouTube and you have no subscriber list and no blog and no following outside of YouTube, then the only way you can “talk” to your audience is by posting a video. But, what happens if the video is a dud? Or what if something technical happens and your audience doesn’t get the notification you posted a new video? Or what if your audience stops hanging around YouTube (as what appears to be happening now)? Or what if YouTube decides to ban you or shut down your account for some reason?

That’s why building your own brand on your own platform that you control is soooo important. Use YouTube as the tool it is, not as a substitute for building your own business.

If you liked this post, you may also like my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book.